Dead WakeErik Larson

Dead Wake

4.5 star

Total 1,467 Ratings

Dead Wake by Erik Larson Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

“Both terrifying and enthralling.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Thrilling, dramatic and powerful.”—NPR
“Thoroughly engrossing.”—George R.R. Martin

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

Finalist for the Washington State Book Award • One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miami Herald, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, LibraryReads, Indigo

Dead Wake (Erik Larson) Book Reviews

Revealing & InterestingIt was difficult to chose between 3 & 4 stars for this book because although it was educational and emotionally charged, there were too many insignificant characters to follow (or not!) and I found the two maps lacking important locations noted in the narrative. One detailed and inclusive map would have sufficed. Larson reveals many facts about the Lusitania affair which I never knew so a good history lesson. An interesting read overall...EAF.Score: 4/5

Learned some historyI had known some events of sunken boats precipitated U.S. involvement in WWI. This story helped see the two year gap between those events. Good read..Score: 4/5

Phenomenal...Larson's finest work to date...and they have all been amazing books! The amount of research put into this book is astounding. I loved Larson's ability to weave in and out from story to story. He captures the audience early and never lets go. What a wonderfully written, yet horribly sad piece of history..Score: 5/5

Dead WakeLoved the book! Never wanted to put it down..Score: 5/5

Dead wakeExcellent!.Score: 5/5

No need to be a history buffThe detail Mr. Larson provides in telling of all involved made it difficult to put down the book. Well done..Score: 5/5

A must readNot being a non-fiction fan I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this book..Score: 5/5

Very goodI must admit, that as one who reads much history , even I learned a lot in this read. I am not one for conspiracy theories, but the Brits might be culpable here. In my discussions with Brits on the sinking, they too suspect that this conspiracy theory might not be mere theory. Also, this should be made into a movie given the 100 year anniversary of WW1 and the sinking of the Lusitania. As much garbage as Hollywood puts out, Larson's book would be excellent subject matter. So Larson, what's the next book? I've read three..Score: 4/5

AwesomeA good read. I would recommend it worth the money!.Score: 5/5

Dead Wake: History well researchedDead Wake by Erik Larson is a well researched and interesting book for history buffs and readers of non-fiction. Larson brings to light a number of little known details about the possibly preventable loss of the great liner, her passengers and crew. A history of the U-boat crew was totally unknown to this reader until now. Larson's descriptive style paints a vivid picture of the events. The epilogue of the survivors lives is particularly fascinating..Score: 5/5

Enjoyed itWould recommend!.Score: 5/5

Did not disappointI have such confidence in Erik Larson’s talent as a good story teller that I pre-ordered Dead Wake. I was not disappointed. He masterfully weaves the elements of this event into the tragic human tapestry it is., Drawing upon primary sources such as U20’s log, the inquiry after the fact, letters from passengers, correspondence through the British Admiralty, accounts from those who brought the victims ashore, Larson cements his historical credibility once again. It was such a good read. Be sure to read Sources and Acknowledgements..Score: 5/5

Great readI almost gave up on Erik Larsen after his last book, which I couldn't finish. This book was excellent and consistent with the great storytelling found in his prior books. Highly recommended..Score: 5/5

Much-Anticipated, but DisappointedBound up in personal details without much substantive geopolitical detail, other than some conspiracy theories, about the part the story played in America’s intervention in WW1. Proved to be a decent read until the end, when I realized that the last third of the book was dedicated to epilogue, appendices, and marketing material for Larson..Score: 3/5

Novelistic historyPopular history told by the expert in that genre...accessible and enlightening..Score: 4/5

More than I expectedMr. Larson is one of my favorite writers and this book doesn't disappoint. The history learned about that time is amazing. It's one thing to know about the sinking but this book enlightened me in many ways about what was going on at this time in history..Score: 5/5

Amazing storyDead Wake shows what historian/writers can achieve at their height. Like Tuchman or McCullough, Larson finds both the fact and the humanity. He can explain *just enough* about buoyancy while firing a torpedo or pressurized steam coming into contact with cold water. He can introduce us to a family without being maudlin, and insert a bit of humor without breaking the narrative (particularly when qouting someone who loves exclamation marks!!!). He also shows the fallabality of “history’s greats” and the greatness of ordinary people..Score: 5/5

Dead WakeEqual parts riveting, informative and heartbreaking. I could not put this book down. Eric Larson always makes his subjects come alive. Thank you for another great read..Score: 5/5

ExcellentI learned much about the early years of WWI, particularly about the navy. I knew the Luisitania was sunk by a German U-boat but knew little about the events surrounding that fateful day. I thank the author for such an interesting learning experience..Score: 5/5

Fiction readers will LOVE as much as history buffsI had to exercise restraint to not devour this gripping book in one sitting. Vivid stories-within-The-Story make the past feel intensely present, and awfully connected as if these people lived and died in the present century. A masterpiece of storytelling I'll be sure to read again..Score: 5/5

A great recount of a historical epic happening!Captivating and simply could not put it down. Very powerful and vivid especially with all of the personal stories! Certainly makes this historic event come to life, tragic as it was..Score: 5/5

Dead WakeExtremely well written. Meticulously researched. Very entertaining and hard to put down..Score: 5/5

Great read!!!Erik Larson's best so far. Historical and dramatic..Score: 5/5

Engaging novel that lives up to the reviewsTruly powerful!.Score: 4/5

Dead AwakiningI like many Americans my age were taught that war was declared right after the sinking of the Lusitania. The story told by Mr. Larson was compelling and spellbinding. A great history lesson. Very tragic but entertaining reading. It gave me a new insight of Sir Winston Churchill. I lost a lot of respect for him after this narrative. I enjoy Mr. Larson's work's and hope he keeps writing for a long time and say kudos to his writing abilities..Score: 5/5

Dead WakeOne of the most special characters was Captain Turner. I found him , at time being written as very rough and unfriendly, as a very warm and brave person. I feel that in the 18 minutes, of the sinking, that with his orders and calmness , in this terrifying situation, saved many lives. I was not surprised by the actions of the Admiralty. They were, as are officials, in the United States, really trying to cover their own huge mistakes. As a history and government major, I found this book , very accurate and historically correct. I fully annoyed reading this work. I truthfully found it difficult to lay it down. I wanted to continue really without stopping. I found Eric Larson,to be an excellent writer and look forward to read his other works.Score: 5/5

Dead WakeThis is a detailed story of doom. Don't think I will take a cruise any time soon. Wonderful detail. I have always been Churchill fan and this book gave him a little smear that was new to me. Learning how politicians can play God is always sad but Dead Wake really gives a horrible picture of this process with great detail..Score: 4/5

SpellbindingThis doesn’t read as some dusty essay. You can tell the author did exhaustive research and really brings the people to life retelling this tragedy. I read the entire book in 2 days and it was hard to put down.Score: 5/5

I can't wait for his next book.Like all of his previous books, Dead Wake keeps you turning pages way past normal sleeping time. Many new facts come to life that I had never heard or read. I can not wait to see what his next subject(s) will be..Score: 5/5

Highly recommendGreat pace and just the right amount of detail. The sinking of the Lusitania had been just another detail of US History; this book provided so much useful backstory. This is a fast and engaging read..Score: 5/5

Good history on LusitanaEnjoyed the details..Score: 4/5

AmazingI loved hearing the details of what was n the hearts and mind of the people in the story. I also loved hearing the outcome of some of the survivors and others after the war..Score: 5/5

Long WindedBasically I love historical books and delve into them with passion. I loved Devil in the White City, full of interesting details about a city I truly love. Dead Wake was so full of non essential people and their names, I could not keep track. So much minutiae that my brain glazed over. I was so ready to see the boat sink and put an end to the over winded dialogue. Sorry Erik, you are a great writer, but this book could have been at least a third shorter..Score: 2/5

Fantastic read!This book is a mesmerizing account of a horrible act of terrorism. It is written in such vivid detail that one often forgets it isn't a work of fiction. Would recommend to anyone..Score: 5/5

Fascinating!A Brilliantly written account of a History Making Event! Larson has a genuine talent for bringing History to Life!.Score: 5/5

Pager Turner!Conspiracy theory? Is this the event that shaped Pearl Harbor?.Score: 5/5

SUPERBLY RESEARCHED, FASCINATINGLY TOLDEric Larson has compiled a gripping account of intrigue, drama, heartbreak, suspense and tragedy in a personalized narrative that takes the reader into the hearts and lives of its characters. This is a ' must read' story..Score: 5/5

Dead wakeGood read.Score: 4/5

The dead wakeI love the tittle of the book it's so scary that's y I'm doing a review its awesome.Score: 5/5

Well Written Historical Account of the LusitaniaA must read, very informative..Score: 4/5

Lusitania Larsen captivates againI enjoy the depth of all of his books. The Devil in White City being the most terrifying This one is no less engrossing. It covers what seemed to be a well-known story. Rather it is far more than that. I well eagerly await the next non-fiction story of his while I strongly recommend this one.Score: 5/5

Dead WakeExcellent book. Well written and researched..Score: 5/5

Excellent read.Another meticulous and captivating read from one of the best authors in this genre. If you liked devil in the white city, read this. If you haven't read either - read both..Score: 5/5

ExcellentThis was such a good representation of history. Enjoyed reading and would recommend..Score: 5/5

Well told and I learned a lotGreat writing and although everyone knows the ending the book keeps your interest. Personal stories from the survivors and perpetrators included..Score: 5/5

A Real Page TurnerIt’s as excellent as you’d expect a Larsen book to be..Score: 5/5

Dead wakeA grand read. He is such a skilled communicator. I kept wishing for pictures, and then I discovered that they could be found on the URLs quoted in the footnotes. Makes reading uniquely advantageous. One can find profiles of all the people aboard, and I found my father's nanny Agnes Crosbie who survived..Score: 5/5

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Dead WakeThis book is fantastic, spectacular and unforgettable. The sinking of the Cunard luxury liner Lusitania was an act so brazen, mean and barbaric that one cannot help but be intrigued, charmed and moved by Larson’s brilliant telling of the story. An unbelievable amount of research had to have been done to bring this story to light. An unimaginable amount of work to relate the facts of an unimaginable disaster..Score: 5/5

A Good ReadThough a bit long winded it was a good read on the sinking of the Lusitania. I was recently in Kinsale and the local guide showed us some of the graves from the sinking of the Lusitania and mentioned the book. I had previously on had read only briefly about the sinking of the Lusitania. The book attempts to give a glimpse in to some of the lives of the passengers and crew of the Lusitania and the U-boat captain..Score: 4/5

Dead wakeA great read..Score: 5/5

Great ReadFantastic, compelling and heart wrenching this book is a must read..Score: 5/5

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